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Four Sudanese protesters killed in mass rallies against army rule

#Sudanese #protesters #killed #mass #rallies #army #rule

At least four Sudanese protesters were killed on Thursday as security forces tried to quell mass rallies by protesters demanding an end to military rule, pro-democracy medics reported.

AFP correspondents reported that security forces fired tear gas and flashbangs to disperse tens of thousands of protesters, the latest crackdown on the anti-coup movement in the past eight months.

At least two of the four were shot dead by “bullets to the chest,” medics said, reporting a total death toll of 105 due to months of protest-related violence.

“Even if we die, the military will not rule us,” protesters chanted, demanding the reversal of an October military coup by army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan that prompted foreign governments to cut aid and deepen a chronic economic crisis.

“Down with Burhan’s rule,” others chanted, while protests and violence flared up both in the capital Khartoum and in its suburbs, including twin city Omdurman.

The paramedics had previously reported that a protester was shot dead during small protests leading up to the main rallies on Wednesday.

An AFP correspondent said internet and phone lines had been cut since the early hours of Thursday, a measure the Sudanese authorities often impose to prevent mass gatherings.

Despite the recent lifting of the state of emergency imposed after the coup, Khartoum has been under tight security.

Troops and police blocked the roads leading to both the army headquarters and the presidential palace, witnesses said. Shops in the capital were largely closed.

Activists have called for “millions strong” rallies.

– “Violence must end” –

“Violence must stop,” UN special envoy Volker Perthes said Thursday, while the US embassy in Khartoum urged restraint and “protection of civilians so that no more lives are lost.”

The Sudanese Foreign Ministry has repeatedly criticized the UN envoy’s remarks, saying they were built on “assumptions” and “contradict his role as mediator” in difficult talks to end Sudan’s political crisis.

The latest protests come on the anniversary of an earlier coup in 1989 that toppled the country’s last elected civilian government and ushered in three decades of ironclad rule by Islamist-backed General Omar al-Bashir.

They are also coming on the anniversary of the 2019 protests and are demanding that the generals who toppled Bashir in a palace coup earlier in the year cede power to civilians.

These protests led to the formation of the mixed civilian-military transitional government that was overthrown in last year’s coup.

Sudan has been rocked by near-weekly protests as the country’s economic woes have worsened since Burhan took power last year.

“June 30 is our way to bring down the coup and block the way for bogus alternatives,” said the Forces for Freedom and Change, a coalition of civilian groups whose leaders were ousted by the coup.

Alongside the African Union and the East African bloc IGAD, the United Nations have attempted to mediate talks between generals and civilians, but they have been boycotted by all major civilian factions.

The United Nations has warned that the deepening economic and political crisis has plunged a third of the country’s more than 40 million people into life-threatening food shortages.

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